It wasn't the week either Tigres or Tijuana was hoping for.
After losing to MLS opposition in the CONCACAF Champions League, the teams now return to league play with a match against each other in El Volcan before next week's deciding second legs.
That should see both Tigres manager Tuca Ferretti and Tijuana coach Diego Cocca think long and hard about their lineups for this match. Both teams are in the Liguilla places, but it's a tight race and dropping points with only seven matches to go in the season isn't ideal.
How will the managers approach this game, the timing of which they'd certainly change if that were an option?
|Game||Tigres vs. Tijuana|
|Date||Saturday, March 10|
|Time||8 p.m. ET|
|Stream (U.S. only)||fuboTV (7-day free trial)|
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SQUADS & TEAM NEWS
|Goalkeepers||Guzman, Fernandez, Ortega|
|Defenders||Kolodziejczak, Ayala, Juninho, Meza, Torres Nilo, Acosta, Jimenez, Estrada, Rodriguez|
|Midfielders||Carioca, Duenas, J. Torres, Vasquez, R. Torres, Zelarayan, Aquino, Alvarez, Sosa, Damm|
|Forwards||Valencia, Gignac, Vargas|
Tuca Ferretti said this week he'd rather win Liga MX than the CONCACAF Champions League, yet this week's second leg at home surely will play a role in his squad selection.
Rafael Carioca missed out on the first leg against Toronto FC because of injury, while Andre-Pierre Gignac played only the second half. Luis "Chaka" Rodriguez is out with a hamstring strain.
Potential starting XI: Guzman; Jimenez, Ayala, Juninho, Torres Nilo; Duenas, Torres, Zelaryan; Sosa, Vargas, Valencia
|Defenders||Valenzuela, Aguilar, Perez, Aguirregaray, Donatti, Orozco, Munoz, Corona|
|Midfielders||Guido, Gonsalvez, Malcorra, Mendoza, Musto, Chavez, Kalinsky, Pisano|
|Forwards||Iturbe, Bou, Bolanos, Lucero, Goncalves, Rubin|
Injuries to forward Gustavo Bou and Juan Martin Lucero couldn't have come at a worse time for Xolos.
It seems unlikely that Diego Cocca will play his best XI for the fourth match in a row with the away leg against the Red Bulls still to come in the CONCACAF Champions League. Look for a lineup designed to get a point, similar to the one he used to get a draw at the Estadio Azteca last month.
Potential starting XI: Lajud; Orozco, Aguilar, Chvas, Munoz, Perez; Rubin, Rivero, Musto; Rubin, Rivero, Musto, Mateus; Garcia
It will be a battle of wits between Tuca Ferretti and Diego Cocca in the Estadio Universitario this weekend. Both managers are coming off midweek defeats to MLS teams in the CONCACAF Champions League and have to figure out how to tackle Saturday's league game before the return legs next week.
Neither team enters the game at full strength. In particular, Tijuana has a bit of an injury crisis up top. Juan Martin Lucero stepped in for Gustavo Bou when his fellow Argentine went down with an injury, but now Lucero has gone done with his own injury. Jose Alberto Garcia, a 23-year-old player who came up in the Xolos system, is filling the central forward void.
Tigres won't have right back Luis "Chaka" Rodrigez, while Rafael Carioca is a doubt and Francisco Meza is out for the season after suffering an ACL tear during a round of 16 CCL game against Herediano.
The reality is that Tijuana coach Diego Cocca already is a somewhat pragmatic manager, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him mimic the tactics he used at the Estadio Azteca in late February. In that contest, between legs of Xolos' CCL round of 16 series, he used a 5-4-1 to frustrate America and emerge with a draw. Here again he's traveling to face a big team in a difficult place to play between CCL legs.
Tigres have the attacking talent to break through, but the execution will be a question. So too will be how seriously Ferretti takes next week's contest against Toronto. Andre-Pierre Gignac came on as a substitute in the first leg. Ferretti could again use him as a reserve Sunday with Eduardo Vargas, Enner Valencia and Ismael Sosa able to create a grouping that would challenge Xolos' back line.
It could be a closed game in El Volcan, interesting because of how the managers choose to approach the game rather than any standout moments on the pitch.